The paints come out of their special place in our cabinets. Some blank pieces of paper make their appearance and take their spot just at the feet of the water colors. A water cup is carefully chosen(because I like to use a pretty one), filled (with warm water, I don't know why.), and then gently laid down right in the middle, center stage. Setting up to paint so deliberately carries with it such an excitement for the experience to come. Of course I could just throw out all the supplies on the table and say "There. Now paint." and I have certainly chosen that method on some of my more frustrating days as a parent, but mostly I prefer not to. With intentionality (and if that's not a word it should be), painting starts to look and feel more like a ritual, something honored, rather than just another activity to rush through. Of course they still rush through it, but it's nice that in some special and meaningful way it just feels different.
I remember reading something about that when Owen was just a baby, but it didn't matter enough to me then to really give it much thought. Now though, I think of it each time we set up to paint. I remind myself that any activity we are preparing has the potential to be a special, thoughtful and meaningful process (bedtime and mealtime immediately come to mind here) it's just simply deciding which activities we will choose to make special in our lives.